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Old 11-18-2007, 04:43 PM   #3007
ATMachine
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Beowulf
A quite solid movie which I liked perhaps more than it deserves. The use of performance capture to digitally enhance the actors was a very risky choice, but it pays off in spades. The oddest thing about the technology is how natural it looks--instead of being creepy or off-putting as in previous movies (I'm looking at you, Polar Express) the characters seem so real you could almost forget they're a blend of people and pixels. If this film is any indicator of future technology, we may soon be building an expressway across the Uncanny Valley.

Also notable in this regard is how the digitalization process allowed for damn realistic aging effects on the characters, while using the same actors. In live action most likely there would have to have been a second actor hired to play each character who survives into Act III, which is 30 years later.

The acting is pretty good, surprisingly for a film in which all the actors stood around in front of bluescreens while wearing spandex bodysuits and dots on their faces. There are several cheesy lines, notably how many times Beowulf says "I AM BEOWULF!" plus a few others, but the actors pull them off pretty well on the whole. Anthony Hopkins is excellent as usual, and Ray Winstone makes a suitably gruff Beowulf. Crispin Glover is only really seen briefly, but brings in memorable mannerisms and a distinct style of speaking that sounds more like the Old English of the original poem.

Speaking of which, anyone who says "The movie is unfaithful to the poem!" is completely missing the point--the writers wanted to suggest that the poem is a not-entirely-truthful retelling of the events in the movie, which owes its existence to movie-Beowulf's Faustian bargain. It's not meant to be the same, and it's something of a commentary on the nature of stories, which is to be expected from the likes of Neil Gaiman.

(There are a few plot changes unrelated to that motif, notably how much time passes between Acts II and III, and where the latter takes place, but they really do help to better support the structural themes of the film. And yes, I just split an infinitive. Sue me.)
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